What to Expect When Traveling During Covid
Updated: Jun 19, 2022
Traveling since March 2020 has been more of an adventure than I ever expected. I’ve done more trips just a few hours away from where I live than before but still have done trips on planes and even one short train trip.
One thing is commonplace, even now in July: Masks. Unless you are driving yourself, if you take transportation like a plane, train or bus, you will be required to wear a mask unless you are actively eating or drinking.
I’ve taken four trips on planes the past year, and have only experienced a few people just not adhering to the mask mandate. I find that interesting since I had to acknowledge when booking the ticket the mask rule, there were emails sent up to three days prior to my flight and then I had to acknowledge the rule when checking in online.
The same mask requirement is in place for a train trip. However, in my single train travel experience, they weren’t as strict if someone didn’t have it on.
Certain areas of the country have had stricter regulations for masks and distancing than others. For instance, here in New Orleans, masks were required in all buildings up until the end of May. While in North Mississippi, where my family lives, the restrictions were lifted a long time ago and you rarely see a mask.
Before you book your trip, either for domestic or international travel, I highly recommend researching what the restrictions are in that area. For instance, when I traveled to Hawaii this past March, I had to take a Covid test within 72 hours of landing on the island. This tripped up a few people on my flight as they took the test outside that window.
Flying to Kauai at the time was a bit more strict as I had to take another test in Honolulu, 72 hours after arriving on the island of Oahu and within 72 hours of landing on Kauai.
There was one catch: The tests had to be from a lab that was approved by the state government. Fortunately, there was one near my home in New Orleans and I got my negative test results the day before my flight, just hours after taking the test. The test in Honolulu was a bit more complicated but I did my research, found a lab within walking distance of my hotel, paid the $125 required for the test, and got my results four hours later.
Also in Hawaii, there were mask requirements in all buildings and in some areas as you were walking around. Last year in Las Vegas, the mask requirement extended to the pool area and you had to wear one while sitting in your chair. As I plan my upcoming trip there, I’m hopeful that the restriction has been lifted. 100+ degrees with a mask on in dry air was not fun at all.
In my opinion, the biggest issue going on right now in the world of travel is the rental car cost. Due to the rental car companies minimizing their fleet as the world stopped traveling, many still do not have enough cars for the demand. That leads to much higher costs and there just isn’t any way around it.
I did not rent a car in Honolulu due to the higher-than-normal costs. Due to that, I stuck mostly to walking around and taking short cab rides or ride-shares to destinations I wanted to go to.
While I was fortunate to be able to rent a car on Kauai for a day, it was about $30 more than a pre-Covid rental. Also, one of the workers at the facility told me that every large SUV and minivan was reserved, to the point that they were actually overbooked.
The costs were 40-50% more than what they were a little over a year prior. Definitely book your car early and be prepared to pay for it.
Overall, the biggest tip I can give on traveling as Covid restrictions still stretch on: research, research, and more research. Many places that were once super easy to go to now require tickets or reservations (see museums, restaurants, etc). Others are shut down completely, unable to recover from the shutdowns over the past year-plus. Outside of the US, many countries are requiring proof of vaccination. So definitely check all travel requirements before you book.
Moving on to accommodations, hotels are doing what they can to let you know the room you are checking into has been deep cleaned. However, many hotels have discontinued service while you are there (unless requested) and don’t have in-room coffee makers unless you ask.
At all of the home and condo rentals we’ve done, they have more hand sanitizer available and a couple had notes of when the last cleaning was. It made us feel a tad safer and also seemed that many places were cleaner than in the past.
As much as travel is opening up, I do believe that some things will be slower at getting back to pre-pandemic levels.
My best advice, again, is to do your research, check the cancelation and refund policies, and adhere to the local rules wherever your travels take you. And have fun no matter where you go!
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